Aidan Lawrence

Aidan's 2014 travels

Category: China (page 1 of 2)

Diary entries for my tour of china in May/June 2014 including visits to Shanghai, Xian and Beijing

China – for better or worse

After 10 days of China ‘highlights’ time has come to drop down thoughts to summarise the country as best I can from a starting point of pre-conceived ideas. So in no particular order…

China is very much a 1st world country – at least the parts we have seen. Shanghai could have been any European city. The core infrastructure is growing, with the metro, buses, airport transfers etc. all very easy. A surprising amount of information is available in English. Not just at tourist sites but basic road signs and pretty well all aspects of the transport infrastructure. The western alphabet and numbers have been adapted for things like car number plates. The only thing difficult is it is hard to tell which bus goes where, but that is just as true of London and any other city sad it is of the likes of Xi’an and Beijing.

Away from the core tourist interaction points,

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Tuesday 27th May Beijing free

Tuesday 27th May 2014

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no easy way of linking individual pics yet… So please accept any dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can).

Nice lazy get up and breakfast – this will be very much a holding day, seeing a few sites, before heading back to the Central Beijing hotel to meet up with the next group. Dragged my self up to the site of the Olympic park – the ‘Birds Nest’ merited a ‘wow’ on first sight but not much else going on there. Also made it up to the Summer Palace site in the north west of Beijing. Basically a lake, some parks and more temple like buildings. Very hot, very windy and a lot of people. Suspect I’m not in the right frame of mind to appreciate it today. Oh well.

Back to the Holiday Inn by mid-pm then a taxi back to Park view in good time to meet next group.

So that’s it for the China diary. Will compose and summary/good/bad bits and post at some point.

Monday 26th May Beijing free

Monday 26th May 2014

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no easy way of linking individual pics yet… So please accept any dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can).

 

Need to relocate to my intermediary hotel so aim is to sight see in the morning and transfer mid-pm. About a 30 min walk up to the Drum tower and Bell tower. Get to listen to a drum demonstration. Plan is to get a rickshaw round to the Tibetan Buddhist Lama temple,but all the rickshaw drivers are asleep and not interested! Oh well – another 30 min walk. Lama temple is an active temple and very impressive. A series of individual temples with different manifestations of Buddhas representing different things to pray to. Lots of Chinese worshipers with incense sticks , bowing in front of their preferred statue. In the final temple there is the largest sandalwood Buddha statue in the world (or something like that – there is a Guinness certificate signed by Norris McWhiter..) . All in all a very nice place to visit – far more interesting than the forbidden city to be honest.

Back to the hotel for mid-pm to get a taxi to my next hotel. Nice idea but my current hotel fail miserably in trying to secure me a taxi and just shrug their shoulders. Fortunately I do know where I’m going but it ends up as a 30 min walk to the nearest metro, a 15 min or so metro ride including a line switch and a 15 min walk at the end. All on a very hot afternoon with all my luggage. Not helped by metro security deciding to search my main bag and confiscating my deodorant as it is a fire hazard 🙁

Very relieved to reach my overnight hotel, a Western style Holliday Inn Express. It has a soft bed and joy oh joy a self service laundry. I will be able to start the next tour nice and fresh.

Sunday 25th May Beijing main

Sunday 25th May 2014

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no easy way of linking individual pics yet… So please accept any dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can).

Morning is set aside for visiting Tiananmen Square and the forbidden city. Someone had heard rumours of a terrorist alert but the security was not particularly high. Starting at the square, well it is a biggg square. You only really get the scale of it by standing near the middle. Lots of people queuing up to go past Mao’s tomb. Not a lot more to add to be honest – it’s a bigg square with bigg buildings on 3 sides and the Forbidden city on the other.

Big queues to enter the city. Again it is biggg. Essentially a home to the emporers of two of the dynasties it’s little more than a series of buildings where the emporer would meet, greet, discuss,live depending on who is involved. There is a timekeeping museum, which turns out to contain lots of English, French and Swiss clocks which had been gifted/commissioned over the years.

So in all honesty not that impressed with these two ‘must see’ sites. Maybe the expectations are wrong as they are so well known. Oh well

A free afternoon starts with plans to take the metro to various locations. However with two free days to come decide to leave that for another time.

Evening begins with a trip to Beijing acrobat. Lots of excellent performances, particularly the guy who walks back up a staircase on a single hand, the 12 girls who balance on a single cycle and the big finish of the wall of death motorbikes which starts with one, is joined by a second to oohs from the audience and to our continuing disbelief ends up with 5 of them interweaving themselves in the ball and 3 others blasting round the bottom – check out the pics and video

For our last meal we go to a traditional ‘Peking Duck’ restaurant. Just served as one course in the same style as previous meals. When it arrives it is basically the same as you find in British Chinese restaurants with the pancakes, greens and hoisin sauce. Only difference is the skin/fat is served separately to the breast meat and the final part is the remains of the carcasse.

Drinks all round as the group will start to disperse. Many are staying for a day or two more so will say goodbye later.


Saturday 24th May – Great Wall

Saturday 24th May 2014

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no easy way of linking individual pics yet… So please accept any dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can).

Forecast rain duly arrives overnight and we set off in coats and umbrellas to be dropped off at the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall around 08:30. Jinshanling is a part of the wall that has survived pretty well and had just a little restoration and infrastructure added. As well as cafés, toilets etc. there is even a cable car to get those that don’t want to hike up to the wall.
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Friday 23rd May transfer to Beijing

Friday 23rd May 2014

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no way of linking my pics yet… So please accept any dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can).

0700 departure to get to new train station on outskirts of Xian
Board high speed train for Beijing. 4:45 hour journey – at typical speeds of 295km/h (around 185 mph). Can’t help comparing China building this with arguments over HS2 in the UK.
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Thursday 22nd May Xian – Terracotta et al

Thursday 22nd May 2014

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no way of linking my pics yet… So please accept any dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can).

NB Link to unedited pic list should be http://photobucket.com/albums/h112/aidanpl/201405-2-China-Xian

(Just some bullet point notes for now to get something published)

Morning to warriors. Entertaining local guide ‘Linda’….
4 parts to Warriors – 3 pits plus bronze chariots.
Pit 1 classic view of infantry. Lots of excavation work continuing.
Pit 2 is mixed infantry – archers etc. place of specific restored warriors behind glass.
Pit 3 is officers etc. including General (?)
Bronze chariots -whatever.
Official shop selling pieces at reasonable price so have a 12″ general to take back.
Afternoon visit to local intrepid help mentally disabled kids school. Not much to add

Evening dumpling banquet and stage show at the Shanxii Grand Opera house. A bit touristy but food excellent and performance very good, especially two soloists

Wednesday 21st May Xian (city)

Wednesday 21st May 2014

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no easy way of linking to individual pics yet… So please accept any dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can).

NB Link to unedited pic list should be  http://photobucket.com/albums/h112/aidanpl/201405-2-China-Xian

At our hotel around 10:00 but too early for check in. So first stop is the city walls. These are a complete set of walls around 10 miles circumference.

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Tuesday 20th May Xitang and train to Xian

 

Tuesday 20th May 2014

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no way of linking my pics yet… So please accept any dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can)

Link to unedited pic list should be via http://photobucket.com/albums/h112/aidanpl/201405-1-China-Shanghai

9.00 hotel departure. Plenty of time for much better breakfast option of pastry/pitta bread thing with spinach from side street vendor. 

About 90 mins to Xitang
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China highlights group

 

(Usual disclaimer – drafting this on an iPad while in China with some strange “autocorrections” and no way of linking my pics yet… So please accept and dodgy grammar and rogue capital letters and I will curate properly when I can)

Meet the group – we have 4 women from Western Australia – Carol, Julie, Trish and Bridget. Quite a fun bunch enjoying travelling together. Their travel day consisted of a 4 hour drive down to Perth, going to an AFL game (mad Aussie rules fans) and then flying straight to Shanghai. 

3 other solo travelling guys – Dave (my room mate) and Tim from Aus, Klaus from Germany. They have just completed another 2 week intrepid travel tour with the same leader heading up from Hong Kong.

We also have Russell and Elaine, a retired couple from New Zealand just embarking on a 6 month world tour and a mother/daughter, Julie and Claire from Liverpool. Claire now works in Darwin so holidaying together is good chance for them to catch up.

Our tour leader is a Chinese lady, Gina from Chengdi. Will publish pics as and when I can

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